Health & Safety

Still a Bad Daisy – HSE Warns Farmers of Livestock Risks

A recent HSE e-Bulletin caught my eye the other day (see a web-based version here). One of the headlines was about the HSE campaign to raise awareness of livestock handling risks on farms (see the campaign press release here). The photo that accompanies the headline shows a happy, young farmer with a newly-shorn sheep. Slightly misleading but there you go. I don’t think sheep kill many people each year (though you can catch some interesting zoonotic diseases from them – but that’s another blog).

The text of the article talks about cattle. Ahhhh…

[No; not as in ‘cute’; as in ‘interesting’]

Because it puts me in mind of the blog that I wrote in March last year about cattle-related fatalities (see Bad Daisy here). So I thought I would have a quick trawl through the current in-year fatality statistics available on the HSE website (see here) to update the stats that I collected for that blog.

Close-up of a cow in a field

Official Statistics

From the figures it looks as if there was one fatality at the back end of the 2017/18 year that didn’t make my previous blog. Plus a further 8 fatalities in the 2018/19 year where contact with cattle is stated as the cause of the fatal injury.

I also discovered multiple news articles about a further cattle-related fatality that does not appear to be in the HSE dataset (John McNamara in early October 2018 – see one article here or google the name for various other reports).

Three of these 10 fatalities were members of the public. The rest were farmers or farm workers. Some of them with a lifetime’s experience of handling cattle.

Cattle in a field with Sunset in the background

So it looks as if we need to add 10 more fatalities to the figures from last year giving a running total of 95 people killed by cattle in Britain between April 2000 and the end of March 2019. Of which 22 (23%) were members of the public.

The risk factors that I highlighted in the previous blog are all still very much relevant to the recent figures – namely age (only one of the 10 was under 50 years old), being alone and dog-walking.

Just to put that in context – the current figures for 2018/ 19 list a total of 140 work-related fatalities. Nine of those 140 fatalities were cattle-related.

So Daisy accounts for over 6% of Britain’s work-related fatalities (yes I know I am ignoring road traffic-related ones).

And the annual number of fatalities appears to be rising not falling. The average over the 19 years is 5 fatalities per year. But the figure for recent years is more like 8 fatalities per year.

Final Thoughts

Just one final thought – there were more fatal cow attacks in Britain last year than there were fatal shark attacks globally (see here if you don’t believe me).

Oh What! Now I’m going to have John Williams’ theme from Jaws in my head every time I go for a walk on the moor!

P.S. There is one other animal-related death in the 2018/19 figures – from wasp sting.

P.P.S – At the time of writing there is not a single work-related death for March 2019 in the table. So it may be the case that the March figures have not been added. There may be additional fatalities hiding in that month.

Dr Jim Phelpstead BSc, PhD, CMIOSH

RRC Consultant Tutor